This course will work on your song identification skills both in the field and through the use of recordings.You will be amazed at the tremendous abundance and diversity that you can "see" with your ears but miss with your eyes. In the early mornings when song is abundant, we will visit diverse habitats near the San Francisco State University's Sierra Nevada Field Campus and familiarize ourselves with the birds of those different localities. Some of the habitat visited will include pine-oak forest, boreal forest, riparian woodland, marsh and savannah, sage scrub (See SNFC bird checklist). We will take mid-day breaks and then use recorded songs to discuss and hone our ability to identify birdsong. The instructor has been involved in avian research using point counts for the past for the past 20 years.
Students should arrive in time on Sunday, June 10, 2012 to set up camp and attend an introductory class at 7:30 PM to introduce your ears to the next day's most likely songs. Every day plan to be out in the field by 6:00 with a packed-cold breakfast - nothing hot but the coffee/tea. We will return noonish for a hot lunch around 12:30 PM then lab work with recordings from 4-6 PM. Class will end on Friday, June 15 about noon-ish.
Binoculars, field guides, notebook. A CD player or IPOD with head set will allow you to study recordings of local songs. The list of local songs can be download the 99 Songs now (which are in a MP3 format and compressed). Either make your own CD or put them on your Ipod and get a head start. The songs on the CD lack the bird names. So you will need to also download CD Answer Key to know which song belongs to which track.
Although days are generally warm, or even hot at lower elevations, be prepared for temperatures as low as freezing at night. Variable weather clothing that may be layered is best. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, tennis shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather or night activities. Old sneakers, rubber boots, or hip-waders may come in handy for marsh prowlingbut not needed
Miscellaneous: Day pack, sunscreen, insect repellant, alarm clock, water bottles,thermos.
I highly recommend that each student download a free copy of Cornell's software Raven Lite to a laptop and learn how to use it. Raven turns any recorded song into a sonogram with which you can analyze the song and visually help yourself hear the song. You can generate your own sonograms for all songs in the course CD or any other useful CD's. We will use these sonograms extensively to help us hear the various patterns of songs.